SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Kings look to end two-game skid vs. Timberwolves

Mar 1, 2024, 9:31 AM | Updated: 9:32 am

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 24: Malik Monk #0 of the Sacramento Kings passes the ball while K...

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

On March 1, 2023, the Sacramento Kings were coasting to a first-round NBA Playoff berth and a top-three seed in the Western Conference standings, giving them ample time to tweak rotations and prepare for the postseason.

2024 is going to be a different story.

Unlike last season, the Kings (33-25) find themselves in the middle of the pack as six teams in the Western Conference standings are separated by 3.5 games or less. Sacramento currently sits in the eighth spot, just 1.5 games behind the fifth seed, but also two games ahead of the tenth and final Play-In spot.

With only 24 games remaining on the regular season schedule, each game comes with heightened stakes as each team will face a daunting road ahead in the coming weeks, filled with peaks and valleys in the chase for a top-six spot.

On Friday, the Kings will have a tall task in front of them as they face the West’s top seed, the Minnesota Timberwolves (42-17).

Minnesota enters play with a 22-6 record at Target Center, although one of those losses came against Sacramento in November.

Can the Kings end a two-game losing streak and start their climb towards a playoff spot, or will they fall further towards the uncertainty of the Play-In?

Sacramento Kings vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Game Info

When: 5:00 PM PST

Where: Target Center  – Minneapolis, MN

TV: NBC Sports California

Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 3:30 PM on Game Night

Line: T-Wolves -6.5, O/U 224.5

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Timberwolves coverage, beginning at 3:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 5:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Minneapolis.

Contain Ant

De’Aaron Fox (knee) and Anthony Edwards (ankle) are both listed as questionable for Friday’s action, but if the latter suits up, Sacramento will need to be on high alert.

Over Edwards’ past six matchups against the Kings, he has averaged 30.0 points while securing four wins in the process, including two of three games this season. Minnesota holds a 16-7 record when Edwards scores 30 points or more this season, meaning it would be wise for Sacramento to keep the former first-overall pick in check.

YouTube video

Kings head coach Mike Brown often calls on defensive wing Kessler Edwards when facing Minnesota, so it will be interesting to see if he goes a similar route if Chris Duarte, Davion Mitchell, and Fox–if he plays–struggle to slow the All-Star.

A bounce-back game for Malik?

Sacramento benefited from Malik Monk’s incredible play to start February, but the Sixth Man of the Year candidate has hit a wall over his past five games:

Monk from February 2-13th (7 games): 22.4 PTS | 4.0 REB | 5.3 AST | 55% FG | 39% 3PT | 28.7 MIN

Monk from February 14-28th (5 games): 12.2 PTS | 3.0 REB | 4.4 AST | 38% FG |21% 3PT | 25.9 MIN

The Kings are at their best when Monk is dialed in on offense, but his lack of production has come at a bad time–especially when you factor in the timing of Fox’s injury. When Fox has missed time this season, Sacramento has leaned on Monk for his scoring ability.

When Monk hits the 20-point mark, good things happen. The Kings hold a 14-5 record when the Kentucky product scores 20 points or more, and with or without Fox, Sacramento needs more from their Sixth Man during this final stretch.

A bounce-back performance in Minnesota would be a great starting point before the Kings return home.

Offense vs. Defense

On the heels of an atrocious showing in Denver, Sacramento’s offense is due to bounce back.

The only problem for the Kings on Friday is the fact that they will be facing the NBA’s top defense, as the Timberwolves enter play in possession of the league’s best defensive rating (108.3) while holding opponents to 106.3 points per game.

In two meetings with Minnesota this season, Sacramento has held its own on the offensive end, scoring 111.0 points on 46 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from three-point range while holding the Timberwolves to 110.5 points over those two games.

Getting more from, well, everyone will be important on Friday following Wednesday’s performance that saw three starters (Davion Mitchell, Kevin Huerter, and Harrison Barnes) fail to score ten points as the Kings finished the night with 96 points on 40/34/61 shooting splits.

Getting Fox back from a one-game absence would do wonders for Sacramento’s offense, especially when you factor in the All-NBA guard’s success against recent Minnesota:

Fox vs. Minnesota since the start of last season (six games): 29.7 PTS | 4.2 REB | 6.8 AST | 1.3 STL | 45% FG

Attacking the Timberwolves’ defense is a crapshoot no matter how you slice it. Minnesota is ranked second in both points in the paint defense (45.5 points allowed per game) and three-point defense (34.9%), meaning it will be a matter of the Kings finding an avenue that works best and finding a rhythm.

YouTube video

If Domantas Sabonis gets shot-blocking big Rudy Gobert in foul trouble early, expect Sacramento to attack the paint. If Keegan Murray, Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes, or other members of the roster get hot from beyond the arc, the Kings should feed the hot hand.

Take what the defense gives you, and in this case, it might not be much. If the Kings want to beat the best defense in the league, it’s going to be important to find an area of weakness and emphasize it before adjustments can be made.

Kings vs. Timberwolves Injury Report

Sacramento

  • De’Aaron Fox – QUESTIONABLE (left knee contusion)
  • Sasha Vezenkov – OUT (right ankle sprain)
  • Jordan Ford – OUT (G-League)
  • Jalen Slawson – OUT (G-League)
  • Colby Jones – OUT (G-League)

Minnesota

  • Anthony Edwards – QUESTIONABLE (left ankle soreness)
  • Kyle Anderson – DOUBTFUL (left knee sprain)
  • Jaylen Clark – OUT (right achilles tendon)
  • Wendell Moore Jr. – OUT (G-League)
  • Leonard Miller – OUT (G-League)

Upcoming Schedule

  • Friday, March 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Minnesota Timberwolves – 5:00 PM PST
  • Monday, March 4th – Sacramento Kings vs. Chicago Bulls – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, March 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, March 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, March 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets – 3:00 PM PST

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